Probing Cell Death Mechanisms with Small Molecules and Genomics Tools

  • Genetic-like Screens with Small Molecules and Genomic Reagents
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Approach: The Stockwell lab sits at the interface of chemistry and biology and is systematically using small molecules to discover mechanisms underlying cellular processes. Our approach is interdisciplinary, combining chemical design and synthesis with genomics, biochemistry and cell biology, with the ultimate goal of revealing new basic biological mechanisms and disease pathophysiology. (Click top-right corner of the figure to enlarge.)

We are using chemical and biological tools to study ferroptosis, a form of regulated cell death discovered in the Stockwell Lab. Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent form of oxidative, non-apoptotic cell death that is tightly linked to metabolism and disease.

We are exploring how ferroptosis in triggered during normal physiological processes and in disease states, and how it can be induced and inhibited for therapeutic benefit in various cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

We use synthetic organic chemistry and computational chemistry tools to design chemical probes and drug candidates that reveal cellular and molecular mechanisms. We also use metabolomics, lipidomics, mass spectrometry imaging, CRISPR and siRNA/shRNA screening, protein expression and biochemistry, structure elucidation and animal models of disease to explore these questions.


  1. Stockwell BR, Friedmann Angeli JP, Bayir H, Bush AI, Conrad M, Dixon SJ, Fulda S, Gascon S, Hatzios SK, Kagan VE, Noel K, Jiang X, Linkermann A, Murphy ME, Overholtze M, Oyagi A, Pagnussat GC, Park J, Ran Q, Rosenfeld CS, Salnikow K, Tang D, Torti FM, Torti SV, Toyokuni S, Woerpel KA, Zhang DD Ferroptosis: A Regulated Cell Death Nexus Linking Metabolism, Redox Biology, and Disease. Cell 2017 Oct. [pubmedpdf]

  2. Yang WS, Kim KJ, Gaschler MM, Patel M, Shchepinov MS, Stockwell BR. Peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids by lipoxygenases drives ferroptosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2016 Aug;113(34):E4966-75. [pubmedpdf]

  3. Shimada K, Skouta R, Kaplan A, Yang WS, Hayano M, Dixon SJ, Brown LM, Valenzuela CA, Wolpaw AJ, Stockwell BR. Global survey of cell death mechanisms reveals metabolic regulation of ferroptosis. Nat Chem Biol 2016 May. [pubmedpdf]

  4. Shimada K, Hayano M, Pagano N, Stockwell BR. Cell-Line Selectivity Improves the Predictive Power of Pharmacogenomic Analyses and Helps Identify NADPH as Biomarker for Ferroptosis Sensitivity. Cell Chem Biol 2016 Feb. [pubmedpdf]

  5. Conrad M, Angeli JPF, Vandenabeele P, Stockwell BR. Regulated necrosis: disease relevance and therapeutic opportunities. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2016 Jan. [pubmedpdf]

  6. Yang WS, Stockwell BR. Ferroptosis: Death by lipid peroxidation.  Trends Cell Biol 2015 Nov. [pubmedpdf]

  7. Dixon SJ, Winter GE, Musavi LS, Lee ED, Snijder B, Rebsamen M, Superti-Furga G, Stockwell BR. Human haploid cell genetics reveals roles for lipid metabolism genes in nonapoptotic cell death. ACS Chem Biol 2015 Jul. [pubmedpdf]

  8. Skouta R, Dixon SJ, Wang J, Dunn DE, Orman M, Shimada K, Rosenberg P, Lo D, Weinberg J, Linkermann A, Stockwell BR. Ferrostatins inhibit oxidative lipid damage and cell death in diverse disease models.  ACS Chem Biol 2014 Mar. [pubmedpdf]

  9. Yang WS, SriRamaratnam R, Welsch ME, Shimada K, Skouta R, Viswanathan VS, Cheah JH, Clemons PA, Shamji AF, Clish CB, Brown LM, Girotti AW, Cornish VW, Schreiber SL, Stockwell BR. Regulation of Ferroptotic Cancer Cell Death by GPX4.  Cell 2014 Jan. [pubmedpdf]

  10. Dixon SJ, Lemberg KM, Lamprecht MR, Skouta R,Zaitsev EM, Gleason CE, Patel DN, Bauer AJ, Cantley AM, Yang WS, Morrison B, Stockwell BR. Ferroptosis: An Iron-Dependent Form of Nonapoptotic Cell Death.  Cell 2012 May. [pubmedpdf]